For first-timers, building a stud wall can seem like a realistic, yet daunting task. Whilst many call on help from the professionals, you don’t have to be a builder or a carpenter to have a go at building your own stud wall. With the right guidance, tools and materials, this is a great DIY project and a fantastic way of tailoring your space to one that adapts to your needs.
Stud walls offer a quick, easy and relatively cost-effective way of breaking up a large room and optimising your space. In a residential setting, stud walls tend to come into play when homeowners want to create an ensuite bathroom, walk-in wardrobe, pantry or utility room or, to separate a lounge-diner. Within a commercial or office setting creating breakout rooms, separate offices, meeting rooms and store cupboards are all feasible with the installation of stud walls.
If you are willing to give it a go, we have put together a simple step by step stud wall building guide to help you along the way.
A stud wall, or partitioning wall, is a vertical, slender structure made up of a base plate (sometimes referred to as a floor plate), a ceiling plate, vertical studs and noggin. Plasterboard or OBS is used to box in the structure and create the wall surface.
Stud walls are much thinner than structural walls, so for additional heat insulation and soundproofing, insulation materials are often also used. In some circumstances, you may opt to incorporate a door or entrance, too.
Because these walls are not load-bearing or structural, they can be knocked through and taken back out with very little effort.
First, prep the area. Start by removing any skirting boards, wall fittings and carpets. If your floor is uneven, you may wish to level it out before getting started using plywood or a self-levelling compound.
Check for wires and pipes. You need to check what’s hiding behind any of the walls or floors that you plan to drill into to avoid nicking any pipes, electrical wires or metal joists. Using an electric stud finder is the best way to do this.
Don’t forget to check whether your project requires approval from Building Regulations.
Using a tape measure, measure from the wall at a 90-degree angle to where your stud will finish. This could be another wall, stud wall or to a point in the room.
Make a note of this measurement, as you will need to cut your base plate timber to this length.
Alternative: If you are building a stud wall that is not running from one wall to another, simply measure out the desired wall length.
Take your timber and measure out the required base plate length, as per your floor measurement. Use a pencil and set square to mark out the required length.
Cut the timber. Using your panel saw, saw along the marked measurement line, taking care to achieve a smooth and even finish.
Top tip: Use a sturdy table to support your timber. Hang the saw line over the edge of the table and secure it in position with your non-sawing hand.
Alternative: You can also use electric cutting tools such as a snip saw or jigsaw.
First. draw a guidance line. Use a spirit level to draw a straight and level line from your existing wall to where the base plate will finish. This line can be used as a guide to slot your base plate into place.
Next, slot the base plate in place. Take the base plate timber that has just been cut, line it up with the line just drawn and slot into place. Once your base plate is in place, ensure that timber runs flat along the ground ( you may wish to tap into place using a hammer).
Then, fix to the floor. Fix in place by drilling your screws through the top of the plate through to the floorboards. You do not need to over-do it on the screws. Screws can be placed roughly 500mm apart. For a base plate of 3 meters for example, 4-5 screws would be more than adequate.
Top tip: You do not need to insert screws where you are planning to incorporate a door, as that section of base plate will be sawn out to accommodate the door.
Important: Only drive screws into the floorboard to avoid causing damage to underfloor pipes or wires.
You need to measure your door. If you are planning to incorporate a door or opening into your stud wall, at this stage you should measure the width of your door or decide on the entrance width.
Then, pencil in your door. Choose where the door will be positioned within the stud wall and use your tape measure and pencil to mark the door width onto your base plate. Don’t forget to add on the measurements of any additional door linings.
From the ceiling, measure the length from the wall to where you want your stud wall to finish. Then, cut your timber to length in the same way that you cut your base plate.
Place your spirit level vertically against the wall and on top of the base plate. Make sure it is level before drawing a straight, vertical line up from the edge of the base plate to the ceiling. Use this line as a guide to place your ceiling plate in place, directly over the top of your base plate.
Fix to the ceiling. Once you are happy that the ceiling plate and base plate are level, screw the ceiling plate into the ceiling, in the same way that you did the floor plate.
Tip: You may need an extra pair of hands for this bit!
Important: You will need to drive screws across the entire plate, including where your door or entrance will be positioned.
Find out how many vertical studs you will need. Vertical studs are typically placed at equal distances of 400 – 450mm apart, so measure and work out how many vertical studs you will need to place between your ceiling and base plates. Mark out where they will be fitted between the two plates.
Measure between the base plate and ceiling plate. Start with measuring the vertical stud that will be attached to your existing wall or stud wall. Measure from the base plate to the ceiling plate, then saw your timber to the appropriate length.
Position the first vertical stud against the existing wall or stud and the ceiling and base plate. This will create a 90-degree angle between your vertical stud and the base plate and ceiling plate. Fix into place by screwing into the existing wall, or stud, as well as both the ceiling and base plates.
Repeat along the wall. Before cutting each vertical stud to size, be sure to remeasure between the ceiling and base plate. It’s important to do this as some vertical lengths may vary, particularly in older buildings.
Fix each vertical stud into place. To do this, start by driving just one screw through the vertical stud and the base plate. This will give you some wiggle room to position the timber. Be careful not to be too forceful, your timber may split!
Use your spirit level to ensure that the vertical stud is level and sits at a 90-degree angle, before screwing the top of the vertical stud into the ceiling plate.
Once you are happy that the vertical is correctly positioned, secure the top and the bottom of the vertical with additional screws – four at the top and four at the bottom (two screws on each side of the vertical stud should be adequate).
Repeat this process.
To solidify the wall, add additional vertical studs to each end of the stud wall from the inside and screw into the first vertical that you fitted to the structure.
Alternative: If you are including a door, remember to cut the base plate out using a saw once all of your vertices are in place.
Measure the centre point between the ceiling plate and the base plate on one of the vertical studs.
Mark this centre point with a pencil.
Use your spirit level to draw a level line across each vertical stud, with each line at the same height on each vertical stud.
Measure the horizontal distance between two of the vertical studs.
Cut a piece of timber to that length to create a noggin.
Place that noggin horizontally between the studs that you have measured, and screw into place. You can use a small spirit level for additional precision.
Screws should be driven from the noggin, into the vertical.
Repeat this process between each vertical stud.
Important: Noggins should be placed a maximum of 1200mm apart. For taller stud wall structures, you should use more noggins for additional strength.
Place the plasterboard or OBS against the inside of the stud wall and fix it into place by driving screws through the plasterboard/OBS and into the vertical studs and noggins.
Repeat this process on the outside of the stud wall if you are not insulating the wall.
You will probably need to give your plasterboard a coat of plaster to provide a smooth and aesthetic finish ready for painting, tiling or wallpapering.
If you want to minimise heat loss, you can place insulation between the gaps in your stud wall before fixing the inner wall plasterboard/OBS.
As a timber specialist, we can provide all of the materials that you will need to erect your stud wall. Shop online or visit our timber centre in Shirrel Heath, just outside of Southampton.